Julie & Julia–my pick for “Feel Good” movie of the year

9 08 2009

Lynn’s and my second wedding anniversary was on Tuesday.  So on Saturday, we celebrated with a food-themed date night.  We took in a late afternoon showing of “Julie & Julia,” then had dinner at McCormick & Schmicks, an upscale seafood restaurant in beautiful downtown Burbank.

“Julie & Julia” is Nora Ephron’s adaptation of two true stories:  Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme.

Meryl Streep channels Julia Child with scary accuracy, and Amy Adams reenacts Julie Powell’s journey from depressed and aimless cubicle slave, to thoughtful, daring and purposeful writer of an internet blog.  Julie Powell takes her love of food, and undertakes a year-long adventure to recreate the 564 recipes from Julia Child’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, then blogs daily about those experiences.  Ephron also directs the movie, intertwining the lives of the two women as mirror images, through their initial seeking of purpose, to the fulfillment of that purpose.

Being a PBS junkie since the age of five, I enjoyed watching Julia Child putter, prepare and pirouette around her kitchen in “The French Chef.”  I don’t remember whether the shows were original airings or reruns at that point, but I fell in love with her singular passion for French cuisine, and her desire to translate that passion and its techniques to her audience.

If I could disseminate the movie into one sentence, I would say it’s about pure passion–for food, and for each other.  Both women are married to supportive, loving men who encourage, challenge, and at times suffer at the short-end of their mate’s singular obsession.  But at its core, the movie is simply a love story–and the best kind in my book.  How often do you see a Hollywood movie that features married couples who actually love and enjoy each other, and encourage their partners to become their best selves?

It also struck a chord because it features strong women from different time periods, who choose (or perhaps are forced by circumstance), to do things outside of the box.  Such is the story of my life, so I gained a helping of inspiration with my serving of entertainment.

“Julie & Julia” is a film that eighties critics used to term a “feel good movie.”   And with depressing economic and social news, what’s so wrong with that?  It’s been a long time since I forked over that much movie money, and managed to leave the theater not minding a bit.

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